The Good Old Fashioned Way

After the bubbly gin-and-lemon-based bliss that is the French 75, I’ve decided to tackle a new liquor and new flavors for this month, and I invite you to join me in venturing into refreshing and exciting territory. This boozy beverage will put a sweet spin on an age-old classic, and while I promise it will be fruit-tastic and dynamic, its creation requires some courage on your part: to experiment with whiskey.

I’m going to be honest with you: the first time I had whiskey, I didn't like it.

Why, you ask? Well, there are a few reasons, the most important being the following: the brand name (well-known, cheap, and harsh), the company (not the best), the amount of time said whiskey had been sitting in a cup (an hour with a generous fistful of crushed ice), and the important fact that I did not sip 一 I gulped. You can probably imagine my face, my throat, and my stomach after I consumed the contents. Who knows, perhaps you have had a similar experience and know the feeling all too well; therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you that I did not come within smelling distance of the liquor again.

That is, until I met my partner, Nate.

We met at a mutual friend’s party four years ago, when we were both in college. I remember the first time I saw him in all-too-vivid detail: his tousled ginger mohawk, his constellations of freckles, his gap-toothed and genuine grin, his bare feet. At first, I felt surprise (who was he, why had I never seen him before, where were his shoes), but then the shock melted away and was replaced by a familiar feeling that I had not been prepared for. In seconds, I was utterly entranced by him, and as he passed to greet someone in the kitchen, all I could think about was navigating through the swelling tide of dancers in the living room and introducing myself to him.

I took an elbow to the ear and tripped over a lone backpack, but eventually, I found myself in the kitchen. There he was, laughing and drinking with a group of friends. I’d comment on how I liked his hair. I’d introduce myself, joke about his lack of footwear, and wonder if he’d join me outside where it didn’t smell like sweat, smoke, and IPA. And, as I thought this to myself, I was pushed. Right into him.

There was a spike of panic, rushing to consume my heart, and I looked up to apologize, my whole face turning as red as a plastic Solo cup. Yet his hands and his gaze steadied me. His smile widened upon making eye contact, and he asked if I was okay. There was something about his voice 一 honest, sweet, and warm 一 that made me instantaneously relax.

As I straightened, laughed, and asked for him to pour me a drink, he passed me a cup of an all-too-familiar liquor: whiskey.

I openly hesitated, but I glanced up to watch him take a slow drought, and I copied him. As I did so, I was aware of a few details: the brand name (well-known, golden, and balanced), the company (the best), the amount of time said whiskey had been sitting in a cup (a minute with a few cubes of ice), and the important fact that I had sipped 一 not gulped. And it made all the difference in the world.

When deciding a cocktail to craft, I couldn’t help but think about a delicious drink that is as honest, sweet, and warm as falling in love can be: a peach, pineapple, and sage Old Fashioned. The infusion of fresh fruit, velvety herb, and whiskey is reminiscent of a mad science experiment, but the result is a firework of explosive summery flavor. Admittedly, the drink does take time to prepare, but the reward is well worth the wait. It’s a rich and satisfying twist on the 1881 Kentucky-originated combo of bourbon, bitters, and citrus, bringing the Old Fashioned to the twenty-first century (and not a moment too soon).

So, I encourage you to put your chemistry skills to the test and make a drink that will surprise you and capture your heart (and your taste buds).   

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Ingredients:

  • 1 container with lid (mason jar, juice container)
  • 2 peaches (sliced, with pits removed)
  • A cup of pineapple (chopped)
  • A handful of fresh sage (chopped)
  • 2 ½ cups of bourbon whiskey
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • Two dashes of Angostura bitters
  • A squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

To Prepare:

  1. Prepare your produce: wash your peaches and chop, removing the pits, and set the fruit aside. Wash your pineapple, separate the fruit from the bumpy skin, chop, and set aside with the peaches. Wash your sage, chop, and put with the former ingredients. Congratulations! Now that everything is sanitary, you’re ready to move on!
  2. Unscrew the top of your clean and empty container, and put the peach, pineapple, and sage inside.
  3. Add the bourbon and the sugar. Here, you can stir the contents together with a utensil or seal the top closed and shake (I did both, just for good measure and distribution).
  4. Now comes the wait: leave the concoction to rest for six to eight hours at room temperature, stirring occasionally. Go about your day! Work hard, play hard, and have fun…
  5. Open up your container, stir, and drain the liquid into a rocks glass (or whatever glass you have on hand, I won’t tell).
  6. Add the dashes of bitters, stir once or twice, and rub the lemon juice on the rim of the glass for a bright burst of citrus. Take a spare slice of peach or a sprig of sage and add to the rim for garnish.

Now you’re ready to sip, relax, and fall in love!